The undamaged part of fire-hit Eastbourne Pier could be reopened by the end of this year, its general manager revealed.

Christos Stylianou said they were working with the local council and English Heritage to replace the destroyed section of the attraction, which was covered by insurance.

Loss adjusters, engineers, contractors and insurers were working to reopen the 144-year-old, 1,000ft-long pier as soon as possible, he added.

Engineers will be checking the Grade II*-listed structure in the weeks ahead while contractors shift debris and start replacing damaged decking and steelwork.

Mr Stylianou said: "Subject to the outcome of the surveys, we are optimistic the undamaged part of the pier will open to the general public early on in the final quarter of 2014.

"Further ahead we will be working closely with the local authority and all its planning departments, including English Heritage, on how we can best replace the destroyed parts of the pier."

Traders, some of whom did not have insurance, have been told their rent will be waived until the end of the season, and a discount offered on their 2015/16 fees.

Mr Stylianou said it was "heartbreaking" to watch the fire destroy the main arcade building near the entrance to the Victorian pier, which is run by Cuerden Leisure Ltd.

"It is only when you nearly lose something that you really start to appreciate what it means to everyone," Mr Stylianou said.

"The people of Eastbourne have been unbelievable - the camaraderie, the pulling together - true 'Dunkirk spirit'."

Last week Sussex Police disclosed that the fire could have been started deliberately and they were treating it as "suspicious".

It was initially suspected that an electrical fault could have been responsible but police said clues now pointed to the fire being "started by someone, either deliberately or accidentally".

Up to 80 firefighters tackled the inferno on the attraction, which left the dome-shaped amusement arcade a scorched shell, but no-one was injured.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne visited to see the damage wrought as Downing Street pledged up to £2 million to help Eastbourne's tourism industry recover from the pier's loss.